Friday, October 17, 2014

Purple Penguins and the Radical Gender Agenda

Just when you think you’ve heard the most outrageous example of progressive irrationality in our public schools – usually something to do with anti-gun hysteria – along comes word that a school district in Nebraska is training teachers to abandon “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls” in favor of “gender inclusive” euphemisms like “purple penguins” instead. You read that right.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given out by a staffer on a “district equity team” to middle-school teachers at Lincoln public schools. Instead, say “hey campers” or “create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.

“When I read about this,” said a friend of mine, “I was sure it was satire.” Well, we inhabit a satirical world now, and our children inhabit an educational culture perverted and dumbed-down over the last several decades by political correctness and social justice progressives. Our schools are no longer focused on educational standards that will make us competitive in the real world; instead, they are obsessed with pushing social justice – and that includes a radical agenda to indoctrinate kids as early as kindergarten about sex. Its ultimate goal is the promotion of promiscuity and the dissolution of the very concept of gender, thereby destroying “patriarchal” culture, delegitimizing parental authority, and dismantling the family unit.

The instructions distributed to Lincoln teachers are part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.” All ages. The document warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests organizing them instead by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening… Always ask yourself,” the document says, “‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” Actually, what teachers should always be asking themselves is, “Are my students learning?”

Also on the list? Decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers and asking all students about their preferred pronouns – because the gender spectrum is apparently so broad now that our current set of pronouns is insufficient. If teachers absolutely have to mention that genders exist at all, the document advises that they be listed as “boy, girl, both or neither.” Both? Neither?

“Avoid using ‘normal’ to define any behaviors,” the document urges. By all means, children should be taught to tolerate others who are different; but eradicating the very notion that normal behavior even exists is not tolerance – it is a denial of reality and an irrational reorienting of children’s understanding of themselves and the natural order.

Speaking of tolerance, the training materials instruct teachers to be intolerant of anyone who references gender “in a binary manner… Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.” It’s unclear how teachers are supposed to find so much time to discuss gender with students without cutting back on their readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic.

The teachers were also given a handout created by the ironically-named Center for Gender Sanity which explains to them that “gender identity... can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual.” And they received an infographic called “The Genderbread Person” produced by Sam Killermann, who describes himself as “a social justice comedian” and is the author of The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender.

Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, said his group has supported legislation to combat bullying, but that these training materials go “way beyond trying to teach someone how to respect another individual” to a “whole new idea of boy-girl.” The idea that “your biology at birth doesn’t designate who you are” is at odds with the beliefs of “almost everyone in the community.” He said that the school district shouldn’t have to re-educate the 99% who aren’t transgender. Clearly Riskowski must be re-educated to understand that there is no such thing as normal behavior.

He noted correctly that the materials seemed geared to children younger than those in middle school. A sister organization that works on such issues nationwide told Riskowski that it’s “some of the most radical material we’ve ever seen.”

Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel noted that the training documents are not intended as hard-and-fast rules, only recommendations, and he has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with them. As for the controversy those documents have engendered (pun intended), he explains that “We don’t get involved with politics… We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids... and we can’t be judgmental,” he said.

But by sitting back and letting these gender radicals insert their indoctrinating materials into the classroom, Mr. Joel is caving in to people who are consumed with politics and gender preferences. That’s the problem with not being “judgmental” – moral neutrality equals moral impotence.

These are our schools now. Our educational system, in the grip of social justice missionaries, is hopelessly broken. Homeschooling is increasingly becoming the best option for raising educated, free children with actual critical thinking skills instead of progressive brainwashing. So of course, the progressives are beginning to target homeschooling – as in Connecticut, where the state intends to increase its oversight of homeschooled children, purportedly because they are considered to be potential Adam Lanzas.

The truth is that they are a threat not to other students but to the state’s authority. As National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson put it in his forceful article, “They Are Coming for Your Children”:

Home-schooling isn’t for everyone, but every home-school student, like every firearm in private hands, is a quiet little declaration of independence. It’s no accident that the people who want to seize your guns are also the ones who want to seize your children.

It’s also no accident that the people who want to indoctrinate your children about sex want them too.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/15/14)